Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Free Shapefiles of Countries of the World (2)

Free Shapefiles of Countries of the World (2)

Note: read also part 3 and part 4 of this blog.

After input on my recent blog (thanks!) and after that I find two more, another post about this.

To judge the quality of the dataset, I use my own country (the Netherlands) as the primary measure. I've a mental map about my country, and know how it should look like. In many of the found datasets it looks completely destroyed. Therefore, personally I would discard them at once. Other datasets quite precisely depict my country. Maybe it is not only because I live here, but also about the topography: it has a large inner lake, it has some islands, and it has a distinctive shape.

So here the previous datasets, and four more, and some variations, come again...

  • (1)
  • from aprs
  • file world.shp
  • from 2002
  • 244 countries
  • Missing a polder existing since 1968

  • (2)
  • from brothersoft, serving blue marble data
  • file World_countries_shp.shp
  • from 1996
  • 239 countries
  • All shape is destroyed
  • (3)
  • from Geodan
  • file WorldCountries.shp
  • from 2003
  • 253 countries
  • The Netherlands are depicted correctly

  • (4)
  • from mapping hacks
  • file world_borders.shp
  • from 2004
  • 251 countries, 3784 polygons
  • Showing a polder which is never realized

  • (5)
  • from thematic mapping
  • file TM_WORLD_BORDERS-0.3.shp
  • from 2008
  • 246 countries
  • Showing a polder which is never realized

  • (5b)
  • also from thematic mapping but the simplified version
  • file TM_WORLD_BORDERS_SIMPL-0.3.shp
  • also from 2008
  • also 246 countries
  • Badly simplified
  • (6)
  • from openmap here, called cntry02
  • file cntry02.shp
  • from 2002
  • 251 countries
  • Showing a polder which is never realized, missing three islands
  • (7)
  • from this site ESRI data
  • file cntry08.shp
  • from 2008
  • 249 countries
  • Missing three (inhabited) islands in the North. For the rest it looks like a good map on this scale
  • (8)
  • from vdstech via this blog
  • file world.shp
  • from 2001
  • 251 countries
  • Badly simplified
  • (9)
  • from natural earth
  • file 10m-admin-0-countries.shp 
  • from 2009
  • 251 countries
  • Missing the inner lake the IJsselmeer
  • (9b)
  • from natural earth
  • file 50m_admin_0_countries.shp 
  • from 2010
  • 240 countries
  • Missing the inner lake the IJsselmeer
  • (9c)
  • from natural earth
  • file 110m_admin_0_countries.shp 
  • from 2010
  • 177 countries
  • Too much simplified
(10). I wanted to do VMAP0 / VMAP1 here. However, my little research concerns a (one) shapefile of countries of the world. Vmap0 is great but to let users figure out all the detailed files and merge them for four parts
of the world is not the purpose I started the research with... so no picture here. Thanks for the tip anyway.
  • (11)
  • from huebler
  • file world_adm0.shp 
  • from 2002
  • 209 countries
  • Missing the inner lake the IJsselmeer

Based on this series, (3) would probably be the best choice, though a bit heavily detailed. Surprisingly, it is created in the Netherlands... So we cannot judge its quality from this series. Furthermore,  (7) would be a reasonable choice, but we saw in the previous blog that (7) is wrong with respect to the Caspian sea. The new dataset (9b) is looking quite good to me for a map on world scale, but alas it misses an important lake. We might see more in another blog, for example showing the countries around the Caspian sea, or the countries in the former republic of Yugoslavia.


I think a good and free shapefile of the world is still welcome.


  1. have a look at

    there are vector data sets of the world for different scales.


  2. Thanks! 255 countries, seems like a full byte ;-) I'll come back to this.

  3. You can find the polbnda (political boundaries) layer of VMAP0 in shapefile format at

  4. Thanks! I found a country map (fips) here indeed:
    and I will process it (polbnda contains subdivisions, but is the base for fips).

  5. Note that VMAP is still not included here but it is not forgotten, it will come.


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